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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Kelly, Wilhelmena, 2010 April 12

Biographical / Historical

Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly was born in 1948 and raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant until age thirteen. She and her sister, Linda Rhodes Jones, represent the third generation of the family to have lived in Brooklyn (Her grandparents bought a Bed-Stuy home in 1932). The family moved to Union Street in Crown Heights and Kelly attended that Brooklyn neighborhood's schools; Lefferts Junior High School, Erasmus Hall High School and Brooklyn College (class of 1970). Seeing a decline in services for the community in the early 1980s, Kelly relocated to Queens. Since 2004, Kelly has written or co-written two books of genealogical studies and two books of archival photos of Brooklyn neighborhoods. Now living in Rosedale, Queens, she began a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (the first woman of color to do so) in 2012 and served as regent. Kelly has promoted genealogy in workshops and online.

Scope and Contents

Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly opens the interview by speaking about her family's transition from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. She recalls the schools of the neighborhood in a time of new buildings to support the baby boom generation. Kelly discusses what inspired her to write. She chronicles her progress through school as well as the history of some place names and those who settled the area. Kelly compares Brooklyn of 2010 with her experience in Queens since the 1980s. She describes the history of her family in Crown Heights, referencing homes of her parents and grandparents. Kelly talks about her process of researching and writing a book on Crown Heights and shares some of the discoveries of her research. She reminisces about the fun she had as a Brooklyn youth, including riding horses and visiting Coney Island. Kelly closes with some advice for the Brooklyn youth of this era. Interview conducted by Treverlyn Dehaarte, Quanaisha Phillips, and Alex Kelly.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Kelly, Wilhelmina

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn College
  • City University of New York. Medgar Evers College
  • Erasmus Hall High School

Subject Topics

  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Genealogy -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Local history
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Queens (New York, N.Y.)